Set in the Chicago neighbourhood of Bronzeville in the 1940s, a time when the community's primarily African-American residents wield an unusual degree of autonomy and power. Illegal lotteries are all the rage and the Copeland brothers have made their fortune running wheels; in fact, they basically run this town. When our story begins, Everett Copeland is doing prison time, and wants retired number-runner Curtis Randolph (Fishburne) to keep an eye on the business. We also meet Everett's sister, a black college graduate who dismisses the condescension of her white landlady and fellow students with elegant disdain. Meanwhile, another young black man is on the run from the law. Fate brings him to Bronzeville, where he is drawn into the Copelands' world.